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Three dead in holiday crash



By SEAN COCKERHAM / scockerham@adn.com

(07/05/08 14:59:13)

Three workers at the McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge died Friday night after a car wreck on the Parks Highway.

William Bradley, Nathan Pollard and Jerry Luzzi, all 21-year-olds from California, died when their 2003 Infiniti rolled several times about 8:33 p.m. Friday.

Two others in the car, 20-year-old Matthew Holmes and 19-year-old Christopher Niles, both from Michigan, survived but are hospitalized in critical condition, according to the Alaska State Troopers.

The men had been in Talkeetna for the Fourth of July and troopers believe they were returning to the McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge near Denali National Park, when the accident happened near Mile 131 of the highway.

"They were only two miles from the lodge when they crashed," said trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.

Ipsen said it was a one-vehicle accident and there were no witnesses.

Troopers are still trying to piece together what happened but said all five men were thrown from the vehicle. None were wearing seatbelts, Ipsen said.

Pollard and Luzzi died at the scene and Bradley died on the way to the hospital, Ipsen said. Niles was taken to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center and a LifeGuard helicopter flew Holmes to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

Three of the men had been at the West Rib Bar in Talkeetna earlier in the day, but only Bradley and Pollard reportedly drank there, and only had a beer apiece, said trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.

At least some of them were later seen at the park in downtown Talkeetna, "partying with others the same age who may work with them," Ipsen said.

Because of this, troopers say they suspect alcohol was a factor in the accident.

Troopers believe Bradley was driving when they left the park in Talkeetna at 7 p.m., Ipsen said.

"We don't know for sure who was driving but based on (reports that) he never lets anyone drive his car, he was probably driving at the time," Ipsen said.

Troopers haven't been able to interview the two survivors because of their severe injuries, Ipsen said. The state medical examiner will perform autopsies on the dead and the car has been impounded for the investigation, Ipsen said.

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Comment by Jeremy on July 7, 2008 at 6:02pm
These guys will be sorely missed. I worked with them this season and last season.

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